KABUL - National foreign ministers will discuss Afghanistan, Syria, Iran and the Horn of Africa when they meet in Brussels on Monday (14 November).
The ministers will look beyond the withdrawal of most foreign troops from Afghanistan by the end of 2013. They will outline a vision for long-term engagement with Afghanistan, to be used as the basis for talks on a bilateral agreement next year. Monday's discussion takes place a few weeks before an international conference in Bonn, Germany, on 5 December, which is supposed to adopt the international community's strategy for aid to Afghanistan post-2013.
The foreign ministers will also discuss the situation in Syria, where the ferocious suppression of dissent by the regime of President Bashar Assad continues unabated despite Assad's agreement to an Arab League peace plan. The United Nations on Tuesday (8 November) put the death toll from the eight-month-long uprising at 3,500, saying some 500 people had been killed since mid-October alone.
Iran's nuclear threat
A report by the United Nations' atomic watchdog on Iran's nuclear-weapons programme released on Tuesday (8 November) has increased the pressure on EU ministers to impose tougher sanctions on the country.
Alain Juppé, France's foreign minister, yesterday (9 November) called for "unprecedented" sanctions and a "new level" of diplomatic pressure against Iran. But an EU official said that no additional sanctions had been prepared so far, although action could be taken swiftly.
The ministers will review the situation in the Horn of Africa, where an 'integrated strategy' – providing security and development assistance – is in preparation.
At their next meeting, on 1 December, the foreign ministers are expected to appoint an EU special representative for the region.
Also on Monday, national development ministers will discuss an 'agenda for change' in the EU's aid policy proposed last month by Andris Piebalgs, the European commissioner for development.
This foresees streamlining the EU's aid to poor countries, including a reduction in the number of beneficaries and sectors. The ministers will also approve the Commission's position on aid effectiveness ahead of an international conference in Busan, South Korea, at the end of the month. (Agencies)